Press Statement - The Traditional Knowledge Action Plan for Forum Island Countries (FICs) has been launched marking a milestone development for the region.

The Action Plan was launched at a Traditional Knowledge workshop convened by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and World Intellectual Property Rights Organisation (WIPO) last week in Nadi.

The meeting was attended by Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights experts and senior government officials from across the region.

"Traditional Knowledge remains an integral part of the Pacific and our work in progressing the Pacific Plan's aspirations for protection of cultural values, identities and Traditional Knowledge," says the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade.

"The Action Plan actively seeks to protect Pacific Traditional Knowledge from misuse and misappropriation without any compensation to the owners of Traditional Knowledge," explains Mr Slade.

"We are very pleased to be heading an inter-agency collaboration in this area involving the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and WIPO."

Traditional Knowledge refers to the large body of knowledge and skills embedded in culture and unique to a given location or society.

The mandate for the Forum Secretariat to develop frameworks for Traditional Knowledge protection arose at the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting in 1999. The Action Plan was consequently developed in consultation with regional stakeholders and endorsed by Pacific ACP Trade Ministers in 2008.

The region's work in this area aims to progress national and regional frameworks for Traditional Biological Resources (protection of traditional plants, medicinal knowledge) and Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture (protection of traditional arts, songs, dances).

Implementation of the Action Plan will initially involve the development of national systems of Traditional Knowledge protection. These systems are expected to provide an enabling environment for cultural industries to grow and contribute to economic development and improvement of livelihoods across the region.

Forum Island Countries currently included in the work of the Action Plan are Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

Funding towards implementation of the Traditional Knowledge Action Plan has been provided by the European Union through its TradeCom Facility.